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Health, Science, Environment

Feds charge 4 in St. Louis as part of nationwide crackdown on health care fraud

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Four St. Louis-area residents are among hundreds across the nation facing charges of federal health care fraud.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced the allegations on Wednesday. All told, more than 300 people in 30 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have been accused of defrauding Medicare and Medicaid. The Justice Department called it the largest crackdown in history, both in terms of number of defendants and the amount of fraud alleged.

In St. Louis:

Azeem Meo is accused of setting up a shell company that enabled him to participate in Medicaid and Medicare billing, despite being excluded from participating in federal health care programs because of an earlier fraudulent billing case.

Mark Greaves, a former pharmacist at the Dierbergs supermarket in Fenton, is accused of stealing bottles of painkillers, including oxycodone, from the pharmacy and altering a digital inventory to cover the thefts. Greaves also allegedly ordered other pharmacy employees who noticed discrepancies between the physical and the digital inventories to alter the digital one.

Laura Williamsan employee of My Crossroads Dentist in Wentzville, allegedly used the names of dentists she worked with to write herself prescriptions for opioids. 

David Peteran internist in St. Charles County who had held positions at several local hospitals, allegedly wrote prescriptions for painkillers in the names of his patients and his family that he ended up using himself. Some of the prescriptions were reimbursed by Medicare.

"As this takedown should make clear, health care fraud is not an abstract violation or benign offense — It is a serious crime," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement.  

"The wrongdoers that we pursue in these operations seek to use public funds for private enrichment.  They target real people — many of them in need of significant medical care.  They promise effective cures and therapies, but they provide none.  Above all, they abuse basic bonds of trust — between doctor and patient; between pharmacist and doctor; between taxpayer and government — and pervert them to their own ends."

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

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